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Tanzania invites visitors to explore its scenic beauty. From the freestanding Afromontane peaks that rise to the summit of one of Africa’s most iconic landmarks, Mount Kilimanjaro, to the wild safari adventures in Ngorongoro Crater and on the Serengeti, strolls on the white sand beaches of Zanzibar, the shores of Lake Tanganyika, and everything in between — Tanzania is a wonderland. It is easy to see why it is one of the Africa’s most popular travel destinations. Formed in 1964 from the union of the newly independent republics of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Tanzania is a stable, developing country that embodies the best of Africa and its challenges. Its colorful history reflects the influence of indigenous tribes as well as rule by Germany, Great Britain. and an Arab sultanate with historic ties to Oman. This mix of cultures has given Tanzania a diverse character all its own. The Bantu language Swahili (Kiswahili) filled with Arabic phrases, mountaineers who come from around the world to climb Kilimanjaro with the help of local guides and porters, and German bakeries found in the unlikeliest of places will remind you that Tanzania is a place like none other. Not even a mere “hello” will suffice. Your Swahili greeting “jambo” may very well be a “hujambo” or “sijambo” depending on whether you’re coming or going.
Welcome to an interactive online story. You’ve been a spectator reading my travelogues, but now it’s your turn to go on your own adventure! Immerse yourself in the story and make key decisions by choosing from among several options. Your selections could make the difference between a great trip or a travel disaster! Read and make your choice, and stay tuned as your travels unfold. If you haven’t read the story from the beginning, stop reading this post! Click here to begin your journey.
You’ve decided to take a trip to South Africa, a land of African and western cultures, scenic beauty, and wild safaris. Congratulations! Now the fun begins. You have to plan your visit.
You think of all the places in South Africa where you might want to go. Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria, and Kruger National Park are the first ones to cross your mind, but there are many more you’d probably like to see if you had the time. You’re going to travel a long way to visit Africa, but you can only take a couple weeks off and have to plan your schedule carefully to make the most of your time. An Internet search of popular travel destinations reveals more potential sites, from the Drakensburg Mountains to Blyde River Canyon near Kruger. The long Garden Route that follows the Indian Ocean along the southern coast sounds gorgeous, but two weeks isn’t enough time to drive it and tour other parts of the country. You decide to focus on two locations where you’ll spend most of your vacation.
You write down your travel preferences and think about how to fit them into your itinerary. You definitely want to experience the South African culture you saw on television during the 2010 World Cup and decide to visit a city for a taste of the local culture. Which one? Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria are the most obvious choices. You jot them down.
You also want to see some of the country’s natural beauty and draw up a list of some of South Africa’s natural wonders, including Blyde River Canyon, the Drakensburgs, and the Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain near Cape Town. Poring over a map of the country, you see them scattered in different places. You can’t visit them all; you’re going to have to narrow them down and choose. Connecting the dots, you notice that many are clustered near Cape Town and Kruger.
A safari is a must-do on your list. You enjoy watching wildlife programs on television and want to see African game animals for yourself. The thought of seeing lions, rhinos, elephants, and other wildlife is exciting. Observing animals in their natural habitat certainly beats visiting them in a zoo!
So you have to choose where you want to go. You don’t have enough time to see everything. You whittle your list down to three options: Capetown; Johannesburg and Pretoria; and Kruger National Park. You can only visit two of them. Which ones do you choose? Choose your preferred destination.
On Sunday a massive 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia caused tsunamis that surged across the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, killing thousands in 10 countries from Indonesia to Somalia. As of this writing almost 24,000 people have perished from the impact of the various tsunamis. Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India were particularly hard hit by them. Large portions of the Maldives were briefly submerged. What a tragedy. This is one of the biggest quakes in recorded history and one of the most destructive. I have colleagues working in Chennai, but I don’t know yet whether they are OK. Few foreigners have been reported missing or killed–I really hope they’re safe. Disasters of this magnitude are so tragic. Earthquakes are among the most destructive natural disasters. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see a huge wall of water coming toward you. I pray for the families of the victims and for those who must deal with the aftermath.
If you’re ever abroad and need to check on travel conditions, call the State Department’s hotline at (888) 407-4747 or check their Crisis Awareness and Preparedness Web page. No one can prepare for a disaster like this, but it’s best to prepare as much as possible. I plan to check into aid and assistance options and help as much as I can from here.